All 152 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) across the UK have received a timely slap-on-the-wrist reminder of their duties to provide free cycles of IVF for couples on the NHS.
David Flory, the deputy chief executive of the NHS, has written to health chiefs who commission fertility treatments to remind them that they should heed the current NICE guidelines of three cycles of IVF for eligible couples where the woman is aged between 23 and 39.
The move comes after several PCTs in the UK, including Stockport, Warrington and Bury in our region of the North West, either cut IVF funding all together or strictly limited the available treatment.
The Department of Health is apparently monitoring the situation after this bout of cost-cutting, and many other Parliamentarians have expressed their disapproval that PCTs can ignore NICE guidelines to suit their pockets. Indeed, one MP has gone as far as launching the first All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility, which launches in the Commons this week.
Amongst the speakers will be Infertility Network UK, which tirelessly campaigns for better and fairer in fertility treatment for all.
Let’s hope that this starts to make a difference. What is worrying is that in the eyes of many health chiefs who hold the purse strings, IVF and those needing it are seen as an easy target.
When in fact, infertility is an illness with emotionally devastating effects, and should be treated as such. It’s time to stop denying people treatment simply because they happen to live in an area where their PCT has decided it isn’t worth the money.
If you’re having trouble accessing IVF treatment on the NHS, Infertility Network has some useful resources to help you. Visit www.infertilitynetworkuk.com/FundingforFertility.
It is also worth knowing that some PCTs will consider letting you transfer your free cycles of IVF to private providers such as Manchester Fertility. You can find out which PCT you are under by clicking here.